Laser Skin Resurfacing
The original carbon dioxide laser is the gold standard with which all subsequent skin rejuvenating lasers have been compared. This laser still has a place in ablative skin resurfacing. ‘Ablative’ refers to the peeling of skin that occurs for the week after treatment.
The Fractional CO2 Laser is the modern version of the Standard CO2 laser. It is arguably the most versatile and useful of all skin rejuvenating lasers. This laser by-passes the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and targets the deep layer (dermis) in which there is collagen and other elements that make for good quality skin. The laser heats this layer to an optimum temperature which stimulates it, so promoting remodelling of the dermis to produce a better quality skin.
The process of skin rejuvenation with this laser can be gradual with modest doses and several treatments (up to 4) or with fewer treatments using higher doses. The choice can be the patient’s.
Laser is a high energy light beam which causes no bleeding and allows the exact depth of resurfacing to be visualised.
Post treatment research biopsies reveal the skin had been made several years younger: there is a true rejuvenation of the micro-anatomy of the skin.
A computerised “pattern generator” allows vaporisation removal of the top layers of “old” skin to provide new skin that is smoother and more even in texture and colour.
The carbon dioxide (CO2) laser and the Erbium laser have been the two most commonly used in this continuously evolving field.
The CO2 laser is still considered the “gold standard” in skin resurfacing and is more predictable and effective in removing deeper wrinkles and produces new collagen in a more youthful arrangement.
It can justifiably be claimed to result in a true rejuvenation of the skin. The Erbium laser does not produce such profound changes except when the device or technique is modified to behave more like the CO2 laser, resulting in the same clinical response and recovery time as for the CO2 laser.
Neither chemical peeling nor standard dermabrasion are as precise or as comfortable. Laser resurfacing reduces the skin age by at least 10 years. Protecting the skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen will prolong results.
Resurfacing is performed in our rooms as a day surgery under local anaesthesia and mild sedation.
Recovery: Social contact can be made 8 days after procedure. The skin remains pink for 3 weeks post procedure, but is easily disguised by make-up. Since the skin adheres literally of new quality, it should be protected from sunlight with sunscreen.
Standard CO2 laser resurfacing reduces skin age by several years. This is evident in the changes seen under the microscope post operatively. New collagen forms in the skin for up to 12 months after the procedure.
The resurfacing can be regional or full face. Common regional areas for resurfacing are: around the eyes (peri-ocular) and around the mouth (peri- oral). It is particularly useful for the vertical lines on the top lip, which do not occur only in smokers.
Both genetic and environmental influences determine skin quality.
As we age the DNA present in every cell in the body deteriorates. This is the ageing process. Also, since our genetic make up varies from one person to another so also does skin quality. That is, we inherit our basic skin quality. The principle environmental influences are natural sunlight, sunbed ultra violet light (solarium), nicotine (smoking), diet, skin applications (‘topicals’) and air pollution. Natural sunlight and smoking are the main causes of skin deterioration in our community. smoking induces premature ageing of the skin.
Are there different types of wrinkles?
Yes. ‘Dynamic’ wrinkles are caused by repeated facial movement which crease the skin. While ‘static’ wrinkles are caused by all the factors mentioned above. ‘Sleep wrinkles’ are oblique lines in the forehead and cheeks caused by resting the side of the face on the pillow during sleep.
Can I improve and maintain skin quality?
There is nothing that can be done about the ageing process itself, but avoidance of damaging environmental influences such as excess sunlight and smoking is important.
Q. What areas can be done?
A. The resurfacing can be regional or full face. Common regional areas for resurfacing can be around the eyes (peri-ocular) and around the mouth (peri-oral). It is particularly useful for the vertical lines in the top lip.
Q. Who are suitable candidates?
A. It can range from the younger age group with fine lines, to the older age group or those with sun damaged skin with deeper wrinkles.
Fine lines are abolished while deeper lines are softened.
Q. How and where is it done?
A. It is performed in my rooms under intravenous sedation and local anesthesia. Immediately after the procedure it feels like a mild sunburn. The laser vaporisers the superficial layers of the skin which renew themselves within 7 days. During this renewal period the skin weeps and requires some thin dressings on the area for the first 3 days and the application of a thin layer of Gel for the remaining 4 days of the week. At one week the skin looks pink and requires make-up for usually up to a period of 3 weeks to disguise the pinkness.
Q. What are the potential problems?
A. Antibiotics are prescribed for the week after the procedure to prevent bacterial infection. When the peri-oral area is treated, an antiviral agent is also prescribed. In lasering deep wrinkles to soften them, there is some loss of pigment cells in the skin. Consequently the skin looks a shade lighter.
Q. How much does CO2 laser resurfacing cost?
A. The fee for a full face is $4,400 (incl. GST). For regional resurfacing the fee is $2200 (incl. GST).
Q. What is the down time?
A. Usually 8 days. By the 7th day all weeping would normally have ceased, leaving the patient with intact pink, new ‘baby’ skin.
- Vibrant healthy looking skin boosting your confidence and making you look younger
- Turn back the years by rejuvenation of skin damaged by the combined effects of the sun and ageing.
- Removal of wrinkling, uneven colouring to provide new skin that is smoother and more even in texture and colour.